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Net music copyrights: The horror, the horror

A News.com reader says some of the business models for digital rights management software and copy protection for online music can be amazingly ridiculous.

     

      
    Net music copyrights: The horror, the horror

    In response to the July 16 Reuters article "FullAudio scores online music licenses":

    It's amazing to me how ridiculous some of the business models for digital rights management software and copy protection for online music can be.

    Imagine going to your favorite retailer and purchasing a new hit album on CD. You're ecstatic to finally own the latest Radiohead release. Now imagine that the person behind the counter says that you can listen to your new CD only at home and only on one specific CD player.

    Your heart begins to sink. Then imagine that this counter person continues by saying that you are required to pay a monthly subscription fee of X number of dollars each month to be able to listen to your new CD. If you fail to pay the fee, or decide that you no longer wish to subscribe, you will never be able to listen to your new CD again.

    Now you're angry. Who would spend money on music that they have to pay for over and over again to listen to it, only to be denied access to the same music they've paid for when they decide to stop a subscription service? The music industry has just succeeded in alienating another customer--you.

    It seems to me that this not only takes away the consumer's right to fair use, but it also robs us of one of our basic freedoms: the freedom of choice.

    Consumers have the right to choose not to continue a service for any reason. Most often, there are penalties for canceling contract services early. However, I cannot think of one that says you cannot use what you've already legally paid for. It's as though these ventures for online music are not really interested in selling quality content online. Content that can be listened to in a car or a portable CD player, an MP3 player or on a computer at work--content that travels with the consumer in the way a CD is able to. It almost appears that labels are hoping these restricted, consumer-unfriendly music services will serve as a catalyst for the flat-lined retail CD sales market. I, for one, would never pay for such a restricted service, and I have a feeling I'm not alone.

    What's more, the recent overemphasis on security and copy prevention for online music does nothing toward the industry's overall concern of music piracy. There is nothing stopping consumers from purchasing CDs, ripping them to unprotected MP3s, and sharing them through alternative, free P2P services; nor is there anything to stop consumers from copying CDs for their friends or neighbors, or from selling copies for reduced prices. If there were, Napster would never have existed.

    Bottom line: If the labels wish to sell their music online, they should take a more consumer-friendly approach. Let consumers listen to the music in whatever location they choose. Give the consumers that flexibility, and the labels are more apt to see legal, paying subscribers downloading useful music, rather than a small minority downloading useless music.

    D. Young
    North Carolina